Bay Bites
Brick House: Informal Meeting & Eating Shady Side

What a difference a year makes. My first Bay Bite last year highlighted Restaurant Peninsule - a somewhat out-of-place upscale French restaurant in Shady Side. Since that time (June, to be exact), partners Pete Litchfield and Paul Day have taken over this old inn and transformed it into an informal meeting and eating place. Brick House offers "draft beer to decorative martinis," according to owner Litchfield, in a casual restaurant that's better suited to its location than its predecessor.

A little off the beaten path for those not familiar with Cedarhurst but still only one-half hour from Annapolis, Brick House is a neighborhood pub conveniently open until the wee hours (2am) seven days a week. Not much remodeling has been done, but some touches have been added: Pinball, darts and several televisions suspended from the ceiling behind the bar - featuring sports, of course. The bar area has been expanded, overflowing into the main dining area. Music and revelry charge the atmosphere, especially as the bar crowd thickenBrick Houses.

Happy hour is a popular event at Brick House (Mon. to Fri. 4-7pm) with the requisite specials (long neck beers $1.50). Mexican night (every Tuesday) appeals to families, offering a limited but nice variety of bargain-priced south-of-the-border fare (Mexican pizza $2.00; quesadilla $3.75).

The kitchen, which is open every night until 1:30am, runs the gamut. There are standard bar snacks (buffalo wings $5.00 and potato skins stuffed with cheddar cheese and bacon $5.95), to salads (blackened tuna $6.95 and jerk chicken $5.95 - both offered with Caesar for $1 extra). There are sandwiches (Brick House club - meatloaf and BLT - $5.95 and Santa Fe chicken with honey hot sauce and pepper jack cheese $5.95). There's dinner entrees (double stuffed pork chop $11.00 and fried shrimp $11.95) and nightly specials.

The feeling at Brick House is laid back and relaxed. The service is a direct reflection of the style. On a recent visit, our hostess delivered us to our table without qualifying smoking versus non. As it turns out, the main dining room, bar and game room are all smoking, with only a smaller room in the back reserved for non-smokers. I prefer the main dining room- it's where the action is - but a choice is nice.

Our waitress for the evening was friendly and enthusiastic (also quite attentive until she was challenged with a large party). When queried for recommendations, she was non-specific, promoting the entire menu over any single dish. Left to our own druthers, we ordered cocktails while dwelling on our decision. A large, nicely prepared Stoli martini was served with side car chilling in a glass of ice - a true bargain at $3.25. Another call drink was also generously served at the same reasonable price. A short but sweet wine list has a nice mix of sparkling, white, red and blush wines available by the glass ($3.50-$4.25) or bottle ($12-$32.50).

Specials for the evening included fried catfish, rockfish, porterhouse steak and soft shell crabs. Nightly fish specials are grilled, broiled or blackened and, for an additional $5.00, can be stuffed with crab imperial).

We began our meal with a few appetizers. Friends had recommended the house special, stuffed oysters ($6.00), which we couldn't resist. Served plump on the half-shell (probably steamed at some point) the six oysters were topped with a creamy crab mixture that made for a yummy taste combination. To complement our oysters, we also ordered the crab toast ($6.95), a decadent crab and cheese pizza-like treat not to be found on any low-fat diets.

For dinner we both went with specials. My companion chose the porterhouse steak ($15.75), while I went with the soft shells stuffed with crab imperial ($18.75). Entrees are served with a choice of two sides and very good warm rolls and butter. We both selected the house salad and baked potato as our sides. I recommend requesting your salad prior to your dinner if that is how you prefer it served. We had our salads with our meal.

The porterhouse was a nice cut of meat prepared as ordered, while my soft shells had been frozen and suffered from defrosting. I should have known better: their season is past. The crab imperial stuffing, on the other hand, was very good.

To help digest our meal before our journey home, a game of pinball was at hand.

Plans for the future of Brick House, according to Litchfield, include utilizing some of the two-acre property for special events and catered affairs such as weddings - Bay views included. For New Years, Litchfield recommends you keep your eyes peeled. The planned festivities include a large lighted millennium ball to be hung by a crane and dropped at midnight. But you don't need to wait for New Years to kick your heels up at Brick House.


1534 Cedarhurst Road Shady Side ·410/867-3400

Proprietors: Pete Litchfield & Paul Day

Reason to go: Comfortable, laid-back atmosphere with great snacks and good people-watching.

Something to think about: Don't order soft shells out of season.

| Issue 46 |

Volume VII Number 46
November 18-24, 1999
New Bay Times

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